Bjorn’s Corner: Fly by steel or electrical wire, Part 7.

By Bjorn Fehrm

September 6, 2019, ©. Leeham News: In our series about classical flight controls (“fly by steel wire”) and Fly-By-Wire (FBW or “fly by electrical wire”) we discussed the flight control laws which are implemented with classical flight controls compared with the Embraer E-Jet and Airbus A320 FBW systems last week.

Now we describe alternative FBW approaches, analyzing Boeing’s 777/787 system and Airbus’ A220 system.

Figure 1. Boeing’s 777 and 787 FBW system architecture. Source: Boeing.

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Mitsubishi lands MOU for up to 100 SpaceJets from USA’s Mesa Air

Sept. 5, 2019, © Leeham News: Nashville—Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp (MITAC) won a large commitment for up to 100 of its new M100 SpaceJet from US regional carrier Mesa Airlines.

The Memorandum of Understanding was announced today at the Regional Airline Assn. annual US conference. The MOU is for 50 firm orders and purchase rights for 50 more. Mesa is a new MITAC customer. Deliveries begin in 2024. Entry into service is planned for 2023.

The M100 is compliant with the US pilot contract Scope Clauses, which (among other things) limit the weight of the airplane and seating configuration.

A Letter of Intent for 15 M100s was announced at the Paris Air Show. This customer has yet to be identified.

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Opportunity and challenges of a 787-10ER, Part 3.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

September 5, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we examined how a longer-range model of Boeing’s 787-10 would look like. We designed a 787-10ER version (ER for Extended Range) by increasing the Maximum TakeOff Weight of the aircraft. We also did some other adjustments to accommodate the increased weight.

We now compare the resulting aircraft with its nearest competitor, the Airbus A350-900. How would a 787-10ER stack up against an A350-900?

Summary:
  • A 787-10ER is a narrower aircraft with a smaller wing than an A350-900. This affects passenger comfort but it also gives a lighter aircraft with less wetted area.
  • The later generation engines on the A350-900 closes the difference in operating costs depending on how the aircraft is operated.

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Airbus holds the line on A350 production rate

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Introduction

Sept. 4, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus’ decision a few months ago to keep the A350 production rate at 10/mo appears to be a wise one, considering that there is a small production gap in 2022 but increasingly large ones from 2023.

Boeing boosted rates this year of the 787, which competes with the A350-900 but not the -1000, to 14/mo. Boeing is sold out at this rate in 2020 and 2021, but has a big gap in 2022 and larger gaps thereafter.

Both companies bank on a splurge of orders early next decade to fill the production gaps. Each says there will be a retirement surge beginning in about 2022.

Airbus offers the A330neo and A350. Boeing pitches the 787 and 777X—with a combined production capacity of 35/mo or 389/yr at current rates.

Summary
  • Skyline quality is generally good, but weak spots and one blue-chip order bear watching.
  • Some significant production gaps emerge in 2023.
  • A330-900 competes with A350-900 for orders.

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Pontifications: Catching up on Odds and Ends-Alaska’s Airbus fleet, first E195-E2 delivery, Boeing’s MAX rebranding question

  • Take our Boeing 737 MAX rebranding poll at the end of this post.

Sept. 2, 2019, © Leeham News: It’s time to catch up on Odds and Ends.

Alaska Airlines

In its second quarter earnings call and 10Q Securities and Exchange Filing, Alaska Airlines said it was returning one Airbus A319 and two A320s off lease this year and next.

By Scott Hamilton

These airplanes are from its Virgin America acquisition, which introduced the Airbus family into the all-Boeing Alaska mainline operations.

Alaska officials have said several times they are evaluating whether to phase out all Airbuses and return to an all-Boeing fleet, or keep the Airbuses and operate a mixed fleet indefinitely.

I wondered if this was the start of the phase out.

“We are planning to return 1 A319 this year and 2 A320s next year at normal lease expiration,” Brandon Pederson, EVP and CFO of the company, wrote LNA.  “This is not part of a broader fleet  decision, nor a phase out of the smaller Airbus aircraft.  Leases on the remaining 50 A319/A320 aircraft in the fleet have varying maturities through 2025.”

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The struggling smaller European low cost carriers

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By Vincent Valery 

Sep. 2, 2019, © Leeham News: Germania, flyBMI and Wow Air ceased operations this year. FlyBe was sold to a consortium that includes Virgin Atlantic for a symbolic amount. Norwegian Air Shuttle and Thomas Cook Airlines’ financial woes are well documented in the media.

Many lesser-known low-cost and leisure carriers are also struggling on the old continent. It is no secret that the airline industry is far more fragmented in Europe than the USA for historical reasons. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr regularly mentions the need for further consolidation.

This calls into question whether smaller European airlines can survive as independent entities under current business models.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Fly by steel or electrical wire, Part 6

By Bjorn Fehrm

August 30, 2019, ©. Leeham News: In our series about classical flight controls (“fly by steel wire”) and Fly-By-Wire (FBW or “fly by electrical wire”) we now discuss the flight control laws which are used for Classical flight controls and FBW systems.

Figure 1. The Boeing 737 artificial feel unit operating over right rod increases roller pressure on feel unit cam, by it making displacement of both left and right rods over Elevator Control Quadrant harder (the arrows depict an elevator up command). Source: Boeing.

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Opportunity and challenges of a 787-10ER, Part 2.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

August 29, 2019, ©. Leeham News: In last week’s article we went through the reasons for a longer range 787-10, a 787-10ER version (ER for Extended Range). We could conclude it would be an attractive aircraft for the market if it could get another 1,000nm in range.

We use our airliner performane model to analyze how this can be achieved and if Boeing would face large engineering challenges to get to this range.

Summary:
  • The 787 program would benefit from a longer range 787-10 as described in our first article
  • Now we analyze how to achieve the extra range and what trades will be necessary to convert the 787-10 to a 787-10ER.

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Pontifications: Embraer sees E175-E2 orders this year outside US

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 26, 2019, © Leeham News: My column July 22 entitled Embraer counts on Boeing heft for E2 sales boost raised a few hackles in Sao Jose dos Campos, headquarters of Embraer.

It wasn’t meant to. Rather, slow sales of the E-Jet E2 this year caught the attention of more than a few in the market, so I thought putting some perspective on the issue was worthwhile.

After all, sales of the Bombardier C Series were slow between the announcement of selling 50.01% of the program and consummation of the deal nearly a year later.

Such is the case with E2 sales pending consummation of the Boeing-Embraer joint venture, which has a target date of closing by year end, I wrote.

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Airbus faces challenges for A330neo

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Aug. 26, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus faces near-term challenges with its production skyline for the A330, even at a reduce rate of 4/mo, an analysis shows.

Looking forward from next year, when there are slightly more deliveries scheduled than production rates—a function of some leftover 2019 builds—Airbus faces an easily-filled gap in 2021 but huge production gaps beginning in 2022.

Even if Letters of Intent and options were fully converted to firm orders, big production gaps will exist.

A production rate cut seems inevitable in the near future.

Summary
  • Key Emirates order not yet firmed up.
  • Big, 200 unit A330-200R LOI no longer appears in data.
  • Why keep the A330neo in the product line?

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